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Theon's future role in aSoiaF


Evolett
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I think Old Nan is Bran's prophet. But Theon may have a unique shared identity with Old Nan:

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Theon led the way up the stairs. I have climbed these steps a thousand times before. As a boy he would run up; descending, he would take the steps three at a time, leaping. Once he leapt right into Old Nan and knocked her to the floor. That earned him the worst thrashing he ever had at Winterfell ...

(ADwD, Theon I)

We have seen Theon as a protector and rescuer of Stark children several times:

  • in the woods, shooting the deserter who threatens Bran;
  • when he invades Winterfell, his clumsy takeover actually saves Bran and Rickon by allowing them to escape. If the Boltons had been able to execute their plan without Theon getting in the way, Bran and Rickon would have been killed;
  • Theon may embody the sword Ice. As the House Stark weapon, this represents a protective role;
  • Theon rescues fArya / Jeyne Poole. Although she is not a real Stark kid, she represents one.

Theon is also able to transcend an important "Otherworld" barrier - when Barbary Dustin can't even find the door to the Winterfell crypt, it is Theon who is able to take her into this private space. 

After he is maimed by Ramsay Snow, Theon has something in common with some other key players who are able to transcend barriers:

  • Qhorin Halfhand takes Jon Snow behind the waterfall and through the mountain passage to meet up with Rattleshirt;
  • Davos Seaworth is able to smuggle onions and Melisandre with her shadow baby into Storm's End;
  • Coldhands is able to guide Bran and his companions to Bloodraven's cave. 
  • Jon Snow nearly deserts the Night's Watch after burning his hand but he instead becomes a ranger and finds the obsidian cache;
  • Catelyn is transformed into Lady Stoneheart, transcending the barrier between life and death, after injuring her hand in the catspaw attack. 
  • Arya wears "fingerless" gloves when she crosses the sea to reach Braavos.

All people with serious hand injuries or hand problems. With the recent realization that GRRM has set up a contrast between Jaime and Theon, it seems probable that Jaime's maimed hand signals a special role for him in transcending some kind of barrier. (My guess is that he and Brienne are about to enter an "otherworld" portal at Pennytree.) 

But I have a new thought about Theon's hand injury: although it was inflicted on him by Ramsay Snow, Theon wears gloves and puts stuffing in the fingers to hide his hand injury. Barbry Dustin gets Theon to take off his glove; in fact, she orders him to remove it and show his disfigured hand to the northern bannermen. I'm wondering whether this means that she sort of takes ownership of Theon, taking him back from the Boltons? Ramsay may have controlled Theon when he was Reek and when the flayed fingers were newly inflicted on him, but maybe the "ungloving" represents a fresh hand injury; a whole hand made broken. This might help us to further explain the meaning of the glove questions we were exploring in the recent thread about runes. 

I don't know why a broken hand would represent someone with a special skill or ability to cross barriers, although it could relate to the "hands of a clock" idea. Maybe a "broken hand" symbolizes a stopped clock, and the person with the maimed or injured hand can go places while time stands still. Melisandre tells us that finger bones can be used to create a glamor. Maybe that has something to do with the ability to find portals. (On the other hand, so to speak, Davos has all of his fingers for his first smuggling efforts; Stannis cuts off his fingers as a punishment for this smuggling crimes. Not sure how to interpret this.) 

But I have a point about Theon's maimed hand and his barrier-crossing. We see Davos given the task of finding and retrieving Rickon Stark. In fact, the reason Rickon's location is known is that Theon's mute "squire," Wex Pyke, tells the Manderlys about watching the Stark heirs split up and leave Winterfell. Theon has already rescued fArya in a daring escape from occupied Winterfell. 

My guess is that Stannis will send Theon to rescue Bran from Bloodraven's cave. He might not even know exactly where Bran is, but the mountain clans may reveal enough to tell Stannis and Theon that Bran is beyond the Wall. Or Theon might follow Bran's voice that only he can hear. So that daydream of Theon's about joining the Night's Watch and becoming a ranger might have foreshadowed his assignment to find Bran. 

In addition to the Davos mission to find Rickon, this would echo the original assignment for Qhorin Halfhand, to find Benjen Stark. 

There's another odd parallel character who might tell us something about Theon's future: Justin Massey. Robb Stark sent Theon to Pyke to try to gain the support of Balon Greyjoy for Robb's war effort. Stannis has sent Justin to Braavos to secure 20,000 soldiers to support Stannis in his military efforts. Stannis also calls Massey a smiler, which is Theon's nickname, and Justin has had special responsibility for Asha Greyjoy while she has been a prisoner of war. 

I do think that Aeron Damphair's "baptism" of Theon was a symbolic crowning of Theon as the next king of the Iron Islands. (I think the crowning / drowning wordplay was what suggested this to me, but there are other details where Theon kneels like Torrhen Stark kneeling before Aegon the Conqueror that seemed to echo the ceremony where Torrhen knelt as a king but stood as Warden of the North. Not the same thing as becoming a king, I realize. The context with Aeron is different than the situation with Torrhen and Aegon.) 

Thinking about the Drowned God association with Theon led me to yet another thought about his likely parallel to Ser Davos Seaworth and to Patchface, both survivors of drowning. I wonder whether the word "drowned" is wordplay on "Ned word." A person who has drowned might have a special ability to speak for Ned. This would be particularly true for Theon, who was Ned Stark's ward and who might personify Ned Stark's sword. (More wordplay on ward / sword / word.) Also, since Theon is a godly man, he might embody the Drowned God, giving him a unique power to speak the language of the "drowned." 

Remember Steffon Baratheon's letter to Cressen about his hopes for Patchface?

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“We have found the most splendid fool,” he wrote Cressen, a fortnight before he was to return home from his fruitless mission. “Only a boy, yet nimble as a monkey and witty as a dozen courtiers. He juggles and riddles and does magic, and he can sing prettily in four tongues. We have bought his freedom and hope to bring him home with us. Robert will be delighted with him, and perhaps in time he will even teach Stannis how to laugh.

So Patchface may be a smiler, like Theon and Justin Massey. Patchface was apparently not particularly successful in teaching Stannis how to laugh, but maybe Theon will make a new effort in bringing out the softer side of Stannis. 

Edited by Seams
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Posted (edited)

The possibility that Theon may serve as a spokesman, prophet or otherwise be able to hear Bran is crystallizing out as per the pieces of evidence offered by contributors to this thread so far. How this might serve the story is the next question. I do like this suggestion put forward by @Seams:

17 hours ago, Seams said:

My guess is that Stannis will send Theon to rescue Bran from Bloodraven's cave. He might not even know exactly where Bran is, but the mountain clans may reveal enough to tell Stannis and Theon that Bran is beyond the Wall. Or Theon might follow Bran's voice that only he can hear. So that daydream of Theon's about joining the Night's Watch and becoming a ranger might have foreshadowed his assignment to find Bran. 

As mentioned above, Theon's squire Wex is mute. There may be a parallel to Jon and his direwolf Ghost here. Ghost is mute, yet Jon heard him, a sound that no one else could hear:

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“What is it, Jon?” their lord father asked. “Can’t you hear it?” Bran could hear the wind in the trees, the clatter of their hooves on the ironwood planks, the whimpering of his hungry pup, but Jon was listening to something else. “There,” Jon said. He swung his horse around and galloped back across the bridge. They watched him dismount where the direwolf lay dead in the snow, watched him kneel. A moment later he was riding back to them, smiling.

It would be in Stannis' interest to find Bran who comes before Rickon as heir to Winterfell and no one need know that Theon is being guided by Bran. Northeners loyal to the Starks may want to pursue this course even if Stannis has suffered defeat at the hands of the Boltons. 

 

17 hours ago, Seams said:

But I have a new thought about Theon's hand injury: although it was inflicted on him by Ramsay Snow, Theon wears gloves and puts stuffing in the fingers to hide his hand injury. Barbry Dustin gets Theon to take off his glove; in fact, she orders him to remove it and show his disfigured hand to the northern bannermen. I'm wondering whether this means that she sort of takes ownership of Theon, taking him back from the Boltons? Ramsay may have controlled Theon when he was Reek and when the flayed fingers were newly inflicted on him, but maybe the "ungloving" represents a fresh hand injury; a whole hand made broken.

I think Barbery Dustin ordering Theon to show his disfigured hand means Theon has to take ownership of his own new identity, not Reek, but the new Theon that has survived Reek. Thinking about it, after enduring all that suffering under Ramsay, there's no way Theon will ever be the person he was before. "Remembering his true name" means coming to terms with his past, including his betrayal of Robb, his torture by Ramsay, the contempt with which he may be regarded in future. He'll have to integrate all that into a new "merged" personality and learn to accept himself, to truely own himself. Ungloving then represents:

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 “Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.” 

Unlike Theon who tries to hide his maimed hand when summoned by the northern bannermen, Davos accepts his finger stumps for what they represent right from the beginning - for him, justice. He goes as far as wearing his finger-bones in a pouch around his neck. Davos' status changes with his cut-off finger bones as well. He is elevated to  Lord, is given lands and a keep and becomes hand to the king. Davos too has to integrate his new status, his lordly and political identity into his past low-born smuggler-self and often has internal conversations with himself about this. Theon needs a little help to achieve this integration and hopefully, he'll succeed. 

Edited by Evolett
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On 6/24/2022 at 4:23 PM, Evolett said:

I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that skinchanging Theon will not be possible if he remembers his name and fully recovers his identity.

Oh, that's fucking cool 

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“I was a prince, Jojen,” he told the older boy. “I was the prince of the woods.”

“You are a prince,” Jojen reminded him softly. “You remember, don’t you? Tell me who you are.”

“You know.” Jojen was his friend and his teacher, but sometimes Bran just wanted to hit him.

“I want you to say the words. Tell me who you are.”

“Bran,” he said sullenly. Bran the Broken. “Brandon Stark.” The cripple boy. “The Prince of Winterfell.” Of Winterfell burned and tumbled, its people scattered and slain. The glass gardens were smashed, and hot water gushed from the cracked walls to steam beneath the sun. How can you be the prince of someplace you might never see again?

“And who is Summer?” Jojen prompted.

“My direwolf.” He smiled. “Prince of the green.”

“Bran the boy and Summer the wolf. You are two, then?”

“Two,” he sighed, “and one.” He hated Jojen when he got stupid like this. At Winterfell he wanted me to dream my wolf dreams, and now that I know how he’s always calling me back.

“Remember that, Bran. Remember yourself, or the wolf will consume you. When you join, it is not enough to run and hunt and howl in Summer’s skin.” It is for me, Bran thought. He liked Summer’s skin better than his own. What good is it to be a skinchanger if you can’t wear the skin you like?

“Will you remember? And next time, mark the tree. Any tree, it doesn’t matter, so long as you do it.”

Jojen (and later Brynden I think) stresses the importance of remembering who's in charge, that Bran is Bran or else he's lost. It's really interesting to think about the other end of the receiver, and how important remembering your name is. Very cool about Hodor. (although Summer does know his name) 

On 6/24/2022 at 4:23 PM, Evolett said:

Yes, Aeron is another good example. Patchface too. 

Definitely a near death experience that changed him, but he's not really a priest like guy just kinda mentally lacking. Definitely weird though, and the fact that Mel is creeped out by him is weirder. 

But yea he might be easy to slip into, it'd be cool if someone was doing it now (kinda like the dusky woman, which is probably a false theory but might be true and once again, she's nameless) but probably no one is or else Jon woulda noticed.

On 6/24/2022 at 4:23 PM, Evolett said:

Seeing through a cat’s eyes is an ability that manifests itself during Arya's period as Blind Beth, during her blind training. 

Side track a bit, she's amazing. So she's seeing through the cat while physically dodging the kindly mans attacks. Can Bran do that? Then she skinchanges across the narrow (presumably wargs into Nymeria) and is able to see things hundreds of miles away, can Bran do that?

I like it when they hype up Bran, telling him he's one of a million and then one of a million on top of that. Cool story, but that doesnt mean Arya isn't too, or for all we know she should add another million 

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15 hours ago, Evolett said:

I think Barbery Dustin ordering Theon to show his disfigured hand means Theon has to take ownership of his own new identity, not Reek, but the new Theon that has survived Reek. Thinking about it, after enduring all that suffering under Ramsay, there's no way Theon will ever be the person he was before. "Remembering his true name" means coming to terms with his past, including his betrayal of Robb, his torture by Ramsay, the contempt with which he may be regarded in future.

Yes. Remembering his name is part of restoring Theon and I think there are some other clues for us and other elements involved in Theon's rebirth. Barbrey Dustin may be the smith. (Or Maester Luwin might be in that role. Hmm. Oddly, Maester Luwin might represent Oathkeeper - he has a conversation with Theon where he refers to an oathbreaker - and Barbrey Dustin might represent Widow's Wail.) 

I suspect "Tobho Mott," the smith who trains Gendry and who knows how to rework Valyrian steel, is an almost anagram for "hot tomb." The Winterfell crypt is a place where Stark children are (symbolically) forged into weapons so it is significant that Theon is in this tomb when he tells Lady Dustin that he always wanted to be a Stark.

The names Theon recalls of the statues in the crypt may ALL represent Theon himself:

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Their footsteps echoed through the vault as they made their way between the rows of pillars. The stone eyes of the dead men seemed to follow them, and the eyes of their stone direwolves as well. The faces stirred faint memories. A few names came back to him, unbidden, whispered in the ghostly voice of Maester Luwin. King Edrick Snowbeard, who had ruled the north for a hundred years. Brandon the Shipwright, who had sailed beyond the sunset. Theon Stark, the Hungry Wolf. My namesake. Lord Beron Stark, who made common cause with Casterly Rock to war against Dagon Greyjoy, Lord of Pyke, in the days when the Seven Kingdoms were ruled in all but name by the bastard sorcerer men called Bloodraven.

(ADwD, The Turncloak)

We've already established that Theon is hungry for the "ripe" Sansa. If we are right about him going beyond the Wall to retrieve Bran, this might represent a voyage beyond the sunset and/or hundreds of years in the north. (Or Euron or Victarion may be the Greyjoys taking the voyage beyond the sunset.) Asha initially told Theon that she was married to a shipwright. The bit about joining up with Casterly Rock to war against the Lord of Pyke would be a surprise if it means Theon will be allied with the Lannisters, but GRRM is a tricksy bird and he doesn't refer to the Lannisters here, just Casterly Rock. The reference to Bloodraven might underscore a mission for Theon to go find Bran.

But Barbrey also tells Theon about Ned's older brother, Brandon, who liked to get blood on his sword. He "deflowered" Barbrey and she wanted to marry him, but he was betrothed to Catelyn. In Catelyn's first POV in AGoT, she comes upon Ned Stark washing blood from his sword in the pool beneath the heart tree. If Theon personifies the sword Ice, I think Barbrey's conversation with Theon may be a re-enactment of that ritual of Ned washing blood from his sword: Barbrey is absolving Theon of his sins, in a way, washing the blood from him. This would also explain why the women who help Theon to rescue fArya / Jeyne are washerwomen.

Further symbolism about Theon longing for the Winterfell godswood "pool":

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A thin film of ice covered the surface of the pool beneath the weirwood. Theon sank to his knees beside it. "Please," he murmured through his broken teeth, "I never meant …" The words caught in his throat. "Save me," he finally managed. "Give me …" What? Strength? Courage? Mercy? Snow fell around him, pale and silent, keeping its own counsel. The only sound was a faint soft sobbing. Jeyne, he thought. It is her, sobbing in her bridal bed. Who else could it be? Gods do not weep. Or do they?

(ADwD, The Turncloak)

"Save me ... Give me ... Jeyne." (Note also the thin film of ice and the fall of Snow.) 

If Barbrey was the Nissa Nissa for Uncle Brandon, she is now telling the sword (Theon) to get ahold of itself, wash the blood off and get busy saving the world. This may be where he enters the Last Hero mode except he is both the hero and the sword that snapped. Maybe also the dog and all twelve of the companions? The first order of business is to fix the bloody broken blade. 

I wrote elsewhere about the possible wordplay on "turncloak" as "turn a lock." This would fit with the notion of Theon as someone uniquely able to cross barriers. But I had another thought along similar lines: what if "Pyke" is "key + P" and also "Keep"? Bran falls from the ruined Old Keep at Winterfell. Would the ruler of Pyke have a special power to lock or unlock an old keep? Keep, of course, could be wordplay on peak or peek, both of which rhyme with Reek. 

This gets complicated, but Euron just returned from a world tour where he went to forbidden places and found (he claims) the Dragonbinder horn. I think this is his way of trying to establish himself as someone who can cross barriers, but I think his claim is false: he never blows the horn himself and always asks others to do it. He claims to be the new king of the Iron Islands but I believe Aeron pre-empted him by "crowning" Theon with a fresh "drowning" ceremony. Instead of making the trip himself, Euron sends Victarion to bring back Daenerys to be his bride. What happens to Victarion? He suffers a hand injury. So Victarion  may be able to transcend the barrier and reach Mereen - in fact, Moqorro may have saved him because he is now a KEY, like Theon, that Dany needs to get back to Westeros. But I don't think either Victarion or Euron will end up as the king of the iron Islands.

Long story: I think Balon, Euron, Aeron and the deceased brother Urrigon (whose hand injury turned out to be fatal) are all aspects of the same archetype or presence (not sure what the right word should be) in ASOIAF. Theon and Asha represent a new generation, trying to lead the Iron Islands in a new direction. (Although they may not be pulling in the same direction.) 

People believe that the faceless man known as Jaqen H'ghar killed Balon, and that may be true. It might fit with the subsequent story that a Faceless Man has lured the novice Pate into selling him an important key from the Citadel. If I'm right that Pyke = key (plus the letter P, for some reason) the effort to obtain the key could be a symbolic parallel for the Ironborn fight to rule at Pyke. 

If there is more wordplay on "key" words, then Theon-as-Reek may represent a key as well. Maybe Ned Stark keeping Theon as his ward was a way of ensuring that he controlled an important key that kept something (The Others?) locked away. It appears that Theon will be in the pocket of Stannis soon and Stannis was Ned Stark's pick as the rightful king of Westeros. 

Interesting to note that Asha also told Theon that she was married to an axe (and her suckling babe is a dirk). When Arya frees Jaqen H'ghar and Rorge and Biter from their locked cage, she does it by handing them an axe. Jeor Mormont gives Craster an axe at the outset of the Great Ranging, and both Jeor and Craster are soon killed (by someone named Dirk). Jon Snow sees Grenn chopping wood with an axe just before he leaves the stone circle at the Fist and goes out to find the obsidian cache. Maybe the symbolism is that axes open barriers that have been kept locked, but someone like Theon can be the key that locks the door again. 

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